What used to be considered a sickeningly sweet, grocery store wine is now finding its way on to some of the fanciest and most expensive wine lists in the US. From Chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in CA to Chef Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin in NY, “pink wine” is making a serious name for itself in the US.
In fact, according to a January 2014 Nielsen report, in 2013 retail sales of premium imported rosé wines (those priced at $12 or more) increased 39% on volume and 48% on value. This marks nine straight years of double digit growth in the US, proving that the perception of rosé as a low quality wine is a thing of the past.
Why this change? According to French wine entrepreneur Pierrick Bouquet, the primary reason is that there’s been a significant improvement in the quality of rosé. In the past, Pierrick explains, most winemakers set out to make red wine and then later decided to turn a portion of the juice pressed for red wine into rosé. While this is still done by some, more and more winemakers are now choosing to make rosé from the outset and are specifically focusing their viniculture efforts on producing rosé rather than simply using it as an outlet for unused juice. As winemakers have started making rosé with intention, the quality of the wine has naturally improved.
Affordability is another reason rosé has seen a boost in popularity. Most rosés are priced at $15 or less, which makes them appealing to a broad consumer base. While there are certainly higher-priced rosés on the market ($30+), Pierrick says that this is a direct result of an increase in the wine’s popularity.
In addition to quality and affordability, rosé has also grown in popularity is because it can easily be paired with a variety of foods. As Master Sommelier Kathy Morgan explains, “Structurally, rosé’s bracing acidity, lack of oak aging, and moderate alcohol are all very food-friendly traits. Acidity mirrors the tangy and pungent ingredients of spring and summer while also highlighting their fresh flavors. Moderate alcoholic strength means that it won’t exacerbate spice or salt, and won’t overpower food. Rosé also has that best-of-both-worlds thing going on—it has white wine structure and red wine flavors, so it can be as light or intense as necessary depending on the food it’s being paired with.”
Although more people are drinking rosé now than ever before, Pierrick says that there is still a lack of education surrounding this wine category. So in an effort to better inform people, he has organized La Nuit en Rosé (The Pink Night), the country’s first large-scale wine event dedicated to sparking and still rosé. Taking place aboard the Hornblower Hybrid yacht along the Hudson River, La Nuit en Rosé will bring together 58 wineries from 10 countries around the world to present over 85 different rosé wines. Showcasing wines from France to Africa to Turkey to the US, this event will give people the opportunity to learn how rosé is made worldwide and to compare rosé styles, varietals, and complexity levels from one producer to another. Pierrick’s goal for this event is not to push any specific region or varietal, but to educate people about the category as a whole and show people how diverse rosé wines can be.
Though a yacht is not your typical venue for a large-scale wine tasting event, Pierrick says the choice was about more than just the wine. “We wanted to make this more like a lifestyle event than a formal wine tasting event,” Pierrick explains. “Rosé is a wine that reflects summer and a good mood. So it’s not just the wine we want people to taste; we want people to really enjoy their time while tasting it.”
La Nuit en Rosé will take place in New York City over two days and nights on June 13th and 14th. In addition to the 85+ wines available for tasting, the event will include music by live DJs and food from Brooklyn Oyster Party, Vin sur Vingt, Canelé by Céline and The Tispsy Scoop, among others. Tickets are $60 each and are available on the La Nuit en Rosé website. All the wines presented will be available for sale on board via Zachys.
For those of you unable to attend, stay tuned for our Rosé Wrap Up. We’ll delve deeper into the process of producing rosé and the different varietals used around the world to make it, and we’ll also provide you with a list of recommendations to satisfy all your summer rosé needs!
Pierrick Bouquet is the founder of ABLE, a NY-based creative agency for food and wine, which he runs with fellow countryman Jacques Azoulay. ABLE orchestrates wine-tasting events in restaurants and venues across the US and works to create contemporary events, innovative digital marketing programs, brand recognition, and established public personas for an extensive list of international clients, including Wines of South Africa and Le Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux.
Kathy Morgan is a Washington, DC-based Master Sommelier, wine educator and consultant. She has 15 years of experience as an acclaimed sommelier and wine director, having gained a diverse scope of experience in restaurants such as Michel Richard’s Citronelle, Bryan Voltaggio’s RANGE and Ristorante Tosca. She’s also an instructor at the Capital Wine School in DC and the International Culinary Center in NYC, and is a member of the DC chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier. In addition, Kathy has lent her expertise to many local and national publications, and is a frequent wine judge and speaker at food and wine festivals.
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